AFC Cup: Abahani Dhaka Limited's Mario Lemos - Chennaiyin will be the best team we play the whole year

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Abahani are tied on points with Chennaiyin after a 1-0 win over Manang Marshyangdi Club and a 2-2 draw against Minerva Punjab

Abahani Dhaka Limited face direct rivals Chennaiyin FC on Tuesday in a bid to go top the standings in Group E of the AFC (Asian Football Condeferation) Cup 2019.

"It is a crucial match. If you want to go through the group stage, it is important to get a result here. But it is just one match in the end and we will try to get the required result," said the Abahani coach, Mario Lemos.

The Portuguese tactician has taken notice of Chennaiyin's might at the back and conceded that he may have to alter his strategy for the tie.

"They are playing with two centre-backs who are very strong (Mailson Alves, Eli Sabia). They are big, Brazilian boys and we won’t be playing long balls. They might not have conceded but we have been scoring a lot. But they are capable of conceding and we will look to make sure we find a way past them," he stated.

However, Lemos was left helpless while ruing the absence of his side's Nigerian striker Sunday Chizoba.

"Unfortunately, Sunday could not get his visa and will not play. I feel bad for the player. He deserved to be here. It is an important match for us but these things happen. It is out of our control. He is our top scorer. But no excuses. We are prepared," he said.

"It is a loss but it is an opportunity for a new player. We have a good chance tomorrow. We will play the same formation but we will change the style we play, especially offensively."

However, Sunday was handed the visa later and he is expected to arrive in the city on Tuesday morning.

Abahani will also be missing a bit of steel in their own defence with Topu Barman on national team duty and Tutul Hussain Badhsah out injured. "Bad luck but of course we will miss them. They are national team defenders but my job is to find the solutions," Lemos commented.

Falling back on his earlier observation of Chennaiyin's defensive strength, he added, "It is a different competition. We play attacking football at home but we can’t play it in this competition. Chennaiyin is a strong team. We need to be careful in attack and defence."

"Against Minerva, we did some mistakes and I think Chennaiyin will be the best team we play the whole year.  We need to be perfect. But there is no pressure and we are not afraid. There is not much expectation on us outside Bangladesh. But our players are capable of playing good football."

Some of the players at the helm of The Sky Blue Brigade have previously plied their trade in India, namely Wellington Priori, Kervens Belfort and Masih Saighani. Lemos revealed that it was no coincidence as he accepted the advice of former NorthEast United coach Nelo Vingada.

"I spoke with Nelo Vingada before coming and our foreigners (Wellington, Belfort and Saighani) have played in India and have a good understanding of the game here. They might have a better understanding of Indian teams than me. Belfort has really stepped it up in the AFC Cup and he is raring to go and looks motivated. He looks happy to be back in India," Lemos concluded.

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